“In the 12 years I have been blogging, I tend to write about the fun I have with my three children or “monkies”. I share about places we enjoy together or the holidays we take as a family, and our funniest and most poignant moments together. I do this because quite simply, there is no other job in the world like being a parent.
Of course, all parents are well aware that raising children will forever be the hardest endeavour we will ever undertake in our lives. It IS hard work. But if you are a parent, you already know that, don’t you?
One of the most common comments my wife and I get from friends or strangers is, ‘I don’t know how both of you do it with three kids!’ Our usual response is to laugh it off and reply, ‘We just do it.’
“Three kids is hard and busy work ― even more so if you have more than three! It is crazily tough, but crazily super at the same time.”
To be honest, I have never given it much of a serious thought. I won’t lie ― having a family with three kids is hard and busy work ― even more so if you have more than three! It is crazily tough, but crazily super at the same time.
For us, parenting has always been a constant learning journey. Both the wife and I work full time, so work, housework and school revision with the kids are NEVER truly done. My wife and I have realised that we cannot do it all.
So, along the way, we have fine-tuned and made changes to the way we manage our and our children’s lives. And so, I thought I would share some thoughts on ‘how we do it’ ― and hopefully, not scare you off if you’re planning your first child (or another)!
I believe the first thing parents should acknowledge is that we are not super-humans. We all have only 24 hours in a day, so we have to rank our priorities. For me, I choose not to schedule any work appointments with my clients on weekends, so that I can spend time with my family. Sure, my income takes a hit but I guess this is a small price to pay in exchange for being there for my kids.
We learn to say ‘No’
Real people can’t devote 100 per cent to everything they do. So, I always remember that I can respectfully decline offers to join a Parent Volunteer Group or serve on another committee at work. When you stop doing things out of guilt, you will find more time to focus on the activities that truly bring you joy.
We pick our battles
Having three kids means there’ll be plenty of arguments, disagreements, sneaky jabs to the stomach or limbs, even MMA-style altercations. And when it comes to mediation, there are always three sides to the story ― your side, my side and the truth. Make that four sides since I have three kids.
But as schooled by my wife, the first thing a parent has to learn in parenthood is to pick one’s battles. Parenting becomes a whole lot easier when you know which battles to pick and which to ignore. Now, I usually let my monkies negotiate and resolve differences on their own while I go and make myself a cup of coffee.
Keep clicking to find out what else Kelvin does to ensure he spends time with his family…
We use routines
What I love about routines is that for us, it takes the thinking out of what to do next. We have pretty much drilled into our monkies what the main routines are like daily. So, whether it is getting ready for school in the morning, watching TV only after meals, or a designated time to change and get ready for bed, they know what needs to be done.
We accept help
Being a parent also means knowing the importance of accepting help. We are extremely blessed that my parents take care of the three monkies on weekdays, so that we can go to work with peace of mind. And sometimes on weekends, when the wifey and I need to run some errands, we feel grateful that we have my parents-in-law to depend on as well.
“We mess up. We learn. We try again. But we just do it ― this is life when you have children. And learning how to love it is perhaps the most awesome aspect about it.”
But more than that, I am also grateful that my boss places a huge emphasis on family ties. Should we find ourselves unable to find alternative childcare arrangements on a particular day, we are free to bring our kids in during meetings to liven things up!
And while I would not say that money is the be all and end all answer to having babies, I would not disagree that any form of financial assistance helps. We benefited from the Baby Bonus Scheme for all of my three kids ― back then, it was only $3,000 for the first child compared to the present $8,000 for the first and second child and $10,000 for the third and subsequent children!
The Child Development Account (CDA) where the Government matches your savings ($6,000 for first and second child, $12,000 for third and fourth child and $18,000 for fifth and subsequent child) over 12 years has also been extremely helpful to us. Besides using the funds to pay for the monkies’ kindergarten school fees, the money also came in useful at hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and even optical shops!
Today, Singaporean newborns will also receive the CDA First Step, an initial balance of $3,000 upfront, in the child’s CDA (more details here), without parents having to contribute anything first! Definitely a great ‘starter kit’ for all dads and mums. Do note, however, that the amount will count towards the existing caps, meaning that first-time parents who receive the grant and then save $3,000 in their child’s CDA will hit the $6,000 co-savings ceiling.
So yes, while every little bit helps ― and the Baby Bonus Scheme has certainly helped to lighten our financial costs of raising kids in Singapore ― how we have made it this far (and still remain relatively sane) is both my wife and I truly believe our monkies are a blessing, not a hindrance.
At the risk of sounding clichéd, we are genuinely grateful to have been blessed with three wonderful kids. Some people may view children as troublesome, time- and energy-sapping, and hence, will naturally feel that having more is a burden. But my wife and I see kids as more of a controlled chaotic joy ― something we make the most (and best) out of.
At the end of the day, there is absolutely NOTHING out of the ordinary about the things we do. We are no different from you and your spouse.
Parenting IS hard.
We mess up. We learn. We try again. But we just do it ― this is life when you have children. And learning how to love it is perhaps the most awesome aspect about it.”
Kelvin Ang is dad to Alethea, 6, Ayden, 10, and Ashton, 12. He blogs at cheekiemonkie (Instagram handle: @cheekiemonkies).
Photo: Ealbert Ho
This article is in collaboration with HeyBaby
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